The Deuce premiered on HBO last night, and starred James Franco playing not one but two roles – twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino.


The story takes place in 1970s New York City, and creator David Simon makes it about the system, rather than about the brothers or the gritty Williamsburg neighborhood where Vincent’s bar stands. As such, the pilot featured a few storylines that don’t logically fit together – yet, anyway.

Vincent is a hard-working, standup bartender, who works in both Brooklyn and Manhattan to put together enough money to keep his family afloat. Frankie, on the other hand, is a gambler and a scofflaw. Both brothers are essentially harmless, two sides of the same coin. Frankie’s actions, however, end up pulling both of them into the seedy underworld of the city.

A mob member, Tommy Longo, visits one of the bars Vinnie manages (a Korean bar in Times Square, no less) and shakes him down for the $30,000 his brother owes the mob. This gives Vinnie an idea – have the waitresses scantily clad to bring in more money – more for his boss Mr. Kim, and more for Frankie to pay off his debts.


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Vinnie also finds out that his wife, Andrea (Zoe Kazan), has been cheating on him while he works multiple jobs. The pair break up, a move which only serves the purpose of freeing up Vinnie so he can focus on the show’s main plot.

Elsewhere in the show, we follow the street hustlers, led by pimp C.C. (Gary Carr). He picks up a new hooker, Lori (Emily Meade), at the Port Authority station, and the other ladies tease her for her “new” smell. Another pimp, Rodney, is seen with the fun Thunder Thighs, played by Pernell Walker. And Darlene (Dominique Fishback) is a gullible, old-soul hooker who works for Larry, an angry pimp. But most importantly, there’s Maggie Gyllenhaal, an independent hooker, or “woman-of-the-night” as she prefers, named Candy. She is fierce and looks out for herself first. C.C., however, has a dark edge to him, that will surely unfold later in the series.

Two more storylines come up in the pilot, that of some police officers and that of Abby (Margarita Levieva). The cops aren’t very fleshed out just yet, and we just meet Officers Alston and Flanagan. Abby, on the other hand, is a whip-smart NYU student who runs into trouble when she tries to buy drugs on the street and gets busted by said cops. They let her off because she seems innocent enough, but Flanagan offers to give her a ride home, aka take her out for a drink.

And where does he take her but Vinnie and Mr. Kim’s Korean bar in Times Square. Sparks appear between Vinnie and Abby, which the cop even senses and leaves the pair alone.

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